Brunei Suspends Death Penalty for Gay Sex After Global Backlash

(Bloomberg) -- Brunei has announced a moratorium on punishing gay sex and adultery with death by stoning after facing criticism from human rights groups and prominent global figures.

Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah announced the moratorium on the death penalty in a televised address on Sunday, extending the scope of a two-decade ban on capital punishment in the tiny Southeast Asian nation, state-owned newspaper Borneo Bulletin reported.

Brunei in early April put into effect laws that penalize homosexuality, anal sex, extramarital affairs and rape with death by stoning in some instances, prompting an outcry from celebrities such as George Clooney.

Bolkiah said the laws were not meant to inflict cruelty but instead were put in place to protect life and religion, the report said. Brunei’s actions had led to calls to boycott hotels owned by the oil-rich monarchy.

“While this is an important step, we continue to call on him to repeal this draconian law in its entirety and uphold all Brunei’s commitments under international law,” said Jean Freedberg, director of global partnerships at the U.S.-based advocacy group Human Rights Campaign. 

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